Maltese Mifsud hero as United exit cup

September 27, 2007

Michael `mosquito' Mifsud gave Sir Alex Ferguson a bite he will not forget in a hurry at Old Trafford last night.

The Malta striker scored both goals as Coventry stunned Manchester United with a 2-0 Carling Cup success to become the first lower-league team to win at the Theatre of Dreams since York humbled the Red Devils 12 years ago.

While Coventry's win was not a shock of the same seismic proportions, it still left Ferguson bewildered - with Mifsud, given his nickname by Sky Blues assistant-boss Tim Flowers, almost emulating the great Brazilian Ronaldo by netting a hat-trick late on.

'Michael got his nickname because he can be a real pest at times. He is just so quick,' said Coventry boss Iain Dowie.

'Sometimes his pace is a huge benefit; at other times it can be a problem, because he goes at that speed all the time.

'But he is getting calmer with his finishing and is learning all the time.'

Mifsud certainly likes this competition, having also scored twice in the previous round against Carlisle.

This latest effort was on an altogether different level, though.

First, Mifsud slid in to convert Michael Doyle's low cross; then, 19 minutes from time, the 26-year-old - signed from Lillestrom by Dowie's predecessor Mickey Adams - belted home, after Jay Tabb had mis-controlled the striker's pass.

His efforts sent an 11,000-strong travelling support into orbit, his feat even more remarkable given Mifsud is yet to make a start in the Coca-Cola Championship this season.

'Michael has had a rib injury, so he has not been at his sharpest. But I felt the system we played really suited him,' said Dowie.

'He is a threat as an out-and-out striker, but playing a bit deeper brought the best out of him.

'He got in the box on a couple of occasions and struck two great shots. People will say he missed the one at the end - but he deserves an enormous amount of credit for getting two goals at Old Trafford.'

Although Ferguson changed his entire starting line-up from Sunday's Premier League win over Chelsea, it still contained six full internationals - including £34million duo Nani and Anderson.

Neither new arrival did his reputation any good, and they were not alone either as Ferguson confirmed the depth of his disappointment.

'I am absolutely flabbergasted,' he said.

'I did not expect that. I am not interested in giving reasons or mitigating circumstances. It was just a big shock, and very disappointing.

'We have trumpeted these young lads in a loud way over the last year or so. I didn't let them go on loan this year, because I looked at the league cup as an avenue for them to progress.

'But we were out-fought in most things, and Coventry won every second ball.

'We were poor. But if the young lads have anything in them, they will learn from this experience.'